Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon is the new Action-RPG title developed by Gust and published by Koei Tecmo. The game is set after the events of the first game, although knowledge of the previous game isn’t required. Creatures called fiends, which are tainted by the blue blood of the Nightlord, roam the land under the control of the Moon Queen. It is up to you and your group of friendly fiends and allies, to foil the Moon Queen’s plan and stop the world from succumbing to eternal darkness.
Aluche Anatoria, our protagonist and newly appointed Holy Knight of the Curia (a religious organisation that exists in order to keep the people safe from the fiends), is given orders to retrieve and safely escort a priestess to their headquarters. Upon bumping into her in the forest, whilst under attack by fiends, Aluche realises that the priestess is her childhood friend, Liliana. After the battle they continue on their journey to the Curia HQ, catching up on old times, although once they arrive things turn for the worse.
Aluche is advised that Liliana is to be escorted to the Moon Queen in order to be sacrificed to stop the attacks and save the world. They head off on their journey to the Moon Queen, however, after not too long their carriage is ambushed and the Moon Queen appears. Aluche isn’t ready to give up her friend just yet so she steps in to fight, along with her other childhood friend, Ruenheid Ariarhod, who is working to keep Liliana safe. Aluche is killed by the Moon Queen, however, she is brought back to life by Camilla Alucard, a doctor who researches artificial half-demons and the owner of the hotel you will use as a base from now on. However, just like her research, Camilla has brought Aluche back as a half-demon by using the Blood of Arnice, the protagonist of the first game.
You miraculously awake to find out that Liliana is gone and everyone thinks you are dead. You head back to Camilla’s hotel, Hotel Eterna, which lies within the Ruined City of Eurulm and are reunited with Ruenheid. You must devise a new plan by vanquishing strong foes and meeting new allies who have the same goal, to stop the Moon Queen at any cost.
As previously stated, the hotel has become your base, you have a few actions you can perform here such as change your clothes, talk to your allies and level up. You receive various quests throughout the game, the three main sections are Main, Lily and Sub – you can complete multiple missions at a time if you’re in the correct area with the correct ally, but you have a strict time-limit to abide by.
There are two time limits present in the game, the first is whilst you are out at a location, either completing a quest or free-roaming looking for secrets and Servans (friendly fiends). You begin with a ten-minute timer in which you must either complete the main quest in the area or return to the hotel via the portals before the timer runs out. This timer can be increased as you level up your character or purchase time extensions in your ability tree.
The second timer is out of your control, it is the number of days until the new moon eclipses the current moon and brings the world to eternal darkness. The number of days you get varies as you progress throughout the story, upon clearing a chapter the new moon is pushed back to a set phase. This means you must not only manage what you do out on the field but also what missions you decide to undertake and who you want to increase your bond with.
At first, I found the timer mechanic to be a little strict as when you enter a new section of the map you are locked into a mandatory battle, which can take a while if you are a low level. Once you have completed battles once, these mandatory fights are gone and you can quickly teleport around using uncovered portals, so the sense of urgency is greatly reduced. Personally, I don’t like games with timers (Dead Rising for example) however, I found this more than manageable and it never impacted the gameplay or the fun I was having whilst playing.
The combat within the game is very fast-paced and varied. At a glance, you would be forgiven to think it was just another button-masher with no variation, however, you have quite a few mechanics to play with. The use of different Servans and allies change the combat style and execution as they all bring something different to the combat, which I’ll go through in more detail below.
Throughout your journey, you will befriend and join forces with up to seven female allies, which the game refers to as Lilys. Each lady has her own special attack, weapons, and strengths. You get to pick one Lily to accompany you into battle, each has three unique attacks which are triggered via three different button combinations. The special attacks range from shielding you, increasing your attack or straight up attacking the fiend with a powerful double-attack. The game also requires you to change the Lily you take quite a lot if you wish to increase their bonds and complete missions, as the missions are Lily-specific, so you get to experiment a lot with the various move-sets.
Whilst playing through the different areas, you will encounter plants that look a little like a pink Audrey II from the Little Shop of Horrors. If you approach these and interact with them, you will free a Servan, a friendly fiend who isn’t that different from a Pokemon. You can choose two of these to come with into battle with you, they all have their own abilities and strengths. The one thing they all do is appear next to you whilst you are outside of the hotel and randomly fight all the fiends you encounter. Their next move is split, about half of them will offer a magical move that can be triggered with the appropriate trigger button (Like fire, ice or poison) and the other ones will replace your weapons with a new one upon pressing the trigger button (like a spear, lance or magic shield).
Another useful feature the magical attack Servans have is the ability to interact with certain environment items (like the HMs in Pokemon). So, for example, the fire-breathing Servan can burn down a bush blocking a path or the flying Servan can lift you up to high-unreachable places. The drawback is that you can’t change the ones you pick once you leave the hotel, so sometimes you will have to make a note where there are blockages you need to come back to later on. The good thing is that, once the obstacle has been removed (apart from the high places one), it will remain clear for the whole playthrough. This, once again, encourages you to plan out which Servans to accompany you to each location so you don’t waste a moon phase in-game having to repeat the area with a different selection.
As stated above, there are three types of quests, Main, Lily, and Sub. All of the quests are very similar in objectives, such as ‘Kill X amount of a certain creature’ or ‘Escort a certain Lily to a few places within an area’ however, the outcome is the main difference. Main quests basically progress the story, once all of the main quests have been completed for a chapter, the chapter ends. Sub-quests are missions that will be instantly failed if you don’t complete them within that chapter, these usually revolve around the area you have just opened up, but towards the end, the game will get you to go to pretty much every area to fulfil them all. The final quests are set by the Lilys, these come in two colours, silver and blue. Silver quests, upon completion, will increase your affinity level with said Lily and the blue ones will make your bond stronger (up to six) which unlocks new permanent perks for that Lily.
Most of the missions, except the blue bond ones, will give you blood, ability points, Servan points or Libra (money). You can buy accessories for yourself and your Lilys with your Libra, level up your Servan with their points, level up yourself with the blood and purchase perks for yourself with the Ability Points.
The music in the game is great, just like most Gust/Koei Tecmo games. They know exactly what music to play to get you in the mood for a mass slaughter of evil fiends. The voice acting is great, although all in Japanese with English subtitles – luckily, unlike some other Koei Tecmo games, when your Lily is talking in Japanese, during the battle, it isn’t anything important, just a shout of encouragement, so you don’t need to take your eyes off the action to see what they had said. I was also impressed with the diversity of the creatures and accessories on offer. They have some really good boss battles which look awesome and play differently from the combat against the weaker foes (if you choose to approach it differently).
Personally, I wasn’t a massive fan of the original Nights of Azure, but I couldn’t put this game down once I started playing it. The game feels like you are always progressing due to its time limits, whereas a JRPG would usually be a lot slower in its pacing. The combat is solid and you have at least three playthroughs of the game to complete if you wish to try and achieve the platinum. The diversity of the Lilys, Servans, and fiends will keep you interested and engaged for hours upon hours.
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon£49.99
- - Fast-paced action pretty much from beginning to end
- - Many different combinations of Servans and Lilys to make the combat fun and fresh
- - Decent story with a decent length to it with a NG+ mode to further increase your bonds
- - KT infamous Jiggle Physics are present and active 100% of the time
- Runs great with no slow-downs at all on the PS4 Pro
- - Mission variety is a bit limited to similar objectives
- - Treasure chests are a little hard to find with no indications or available maps to buy
- - The time limits may put some people off